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Reminiscences of Dollar, Tillicoultry and other Districts adjoining the Ochils
Chapter XI - Tilicoultry made into a Burgh


WERE I to enter in detail into all the social, religious, and political movements and changes that have taken place in Tillicoultry since I came to it thirty-five years ago, it would fill another volume, and I must not therefore attempt the task. There is, however, one important event in connection with our local government, that took place in 1871, that I cannot but refer to, and that was getting our town and neighbourhood made into a burgh, with a staff of commissioners and chief magistrate to rule over us. The result has been that great improvements have been carried out, that cannot but have added greatly to the comfort of the inhabitants, and improved the health of the village; and notably amongst these are our beautifully paved footways and well-constructed run-channels along our streets, which have given our village quite a smart appearance, and put an end to those accumulations of stagnant water which used formerly to meet the eye everywhere. Even our 'Howdub' (Frederick Street), which used to be a regular puddle, and was most appropriately named, is now a smart, tidy-looking street, and quite as comfortable for those residing in it as any part of our village. Speaking of this street, I may, in passing, state that in 1805 it was the principal street of the village, and formed part of the old highway from Dollar to Stirling. At that time the new turnpike road was not made along the foot of the Ochils; and my old friend Mr. Moir was telling me that he remembers well of walking to Dollar on the old road, through Tillicoultry and Harviestoun estates, and above Broomrig, Woodcot, and on by Gateside. It passed below Harviestoun Castle, about half-way between it and the present road. It is now entirely shut up between Tillicoultry and the villa of Belmont, near Dollar; and also through Mr. Johnstone's grounds, of Alva; but it is still open between Burnside of Alva and Menstrie.

The two-storied house at the west end of the 'How- dub,' Tillicoultry, was the principal inn of the village in the days of the old road, and is one of the oldest houses in it. It was latterly and for many years conducted by a family of the name of Ure. A smaller inn or public-house was in the same street; and the worthy proprietor of it had a very good motto on his signboard, which it would be well for all business people to adopt,—' Pay the day, and trust the morn' (pay to-day, and trust to-morrow). Of course, when tomorrow came it was to-day; and hence this prudent man did business for 'ready money only.'

A good story is told of the proprietor of this 'public.' Smuggling was carried on very extensively in James's day, and he had a pretty intimate acquaintanceship with all the smugglers of the district, and was never at a loss for a plentiful supply of the genuine 'mountain dew' when required, and very little of the whisky consumed in his premises added much to the king's revenue. Well, one day, when a neat little keg that had recently been received was lying in a corner of the kitchen, a neighbour came in to James, in great haste, with the alarming news that the gauger was doming along the street, and would be in on him in a minute or two. What was to be done? The guidwife was out, and he could not, therefore, get her to help him in the emergency. The situation seeming desperate, there was nothing for it but to have recourse to a desperate expedient, and brave it out the best way he could. So, when the excise officer walked into the room, James was busy rocking the cradle, and crooning away some lullaby to the supposed infant that he—in the absence of his wife - was acting as nurse to. Apologizing to the Government official for not being able to leave the infant—the guidwife being out—he told him just to take a look through, and he would find things all in order. Being thrown off his guard by the apparent simplicity of the man, he satisfied himself with a cursory glance, and immediately left, to the no little relief, as we may suppose, of the worthy proprietor of the 'Pay the day and trust the morn' tavern. The keg was of course immediately removed from the cradle, and deposited in a safe place of keeping.

The proprietor of Tillicoultry estate at that time was lame, and James went frequently up to the big house, and assisted him in moving about; and when he wished to have a survey of any part of the policies, where no conveyance could be made available, James carried him on his back. He was thus engaged one day, when, having said or done something that displeased the laird, he got his ears pulled for his trouble. This was too much for James's good nature; so, spying a nice bank of nettles among some trees, he walked right into the heart of them, and, after giving him a good squeeze on one of the trees, dropped him down among the nettles, and went away and left him. We may be pretty sure James's services would not be required at the 'big house' after this, and that the laird would, during the rest of his days, have a wholesome dread of nettles.

Notwithstanding all the improvements that have been carried through (and they are many) since our Burgh Act was introduced, our assessment has never exceeded is. id. per £ on rental; and to those towns (such as Dollar) that are hesitating about adopting it, I would say, 'Don't delay another day.' (Archibald Walker, Esq., has been our chief magistrate in Tillicoultry ever since the Burgh Act was introduced, and no more worthy man could be got to fill the honourable position.)

The turnpike road was constructed in 1806 or 1807, and then commenced the building of the new part of all our villages along this road. Hence the name of the New Town' applied to that part of Dollar built on the new road.

CONSTRUCTION OF NEW CEMETERY IN TILLICOULTRY.

I will now only refer to one other important step that was taken by the inhabitants of Tilllicoultry, in the year 1860, in resolving to construct a new cemetery on the south end of the Cunninghar Hill. It was completed in 1861, and the first interment that was made in it was that of our much-esteemed townsman, the late Dr. Ritchie. He had been residing in Glasgow for some time before his death; but when that event took place, his body was brought to Tillicoultry, and interred in our new cemetery on November 30th, 1861. A handsome memorial-stone was erected to his memory, subscribed for by a great many of the inhabitants of the village, and other friends. The inscription on it is as follows :-

In memory of
DAVID S. RITCHIE,
who was the first interred
in this Cemetery, Nov. 30th, 1861.
Erected by
a large circle of friends
in admiration of his
Philanthropy and gratuitous
Professional Services
to the Poor.
'I was sick, and ye visited me.

Under the thoroughly skilful management of Mr. Roberts, this cemetery has been beautifully laid out, and is quite an acquisition to our village, and a model of what the last resting-place of our friends ought to be. The suitability of the site fixed on, and the beauty of the situation, could not, I think, be surpassed anywhere.

The late Mr. Peter Dow took a great interest in the construction of our .new cemetery, and it was his great ambition (as Inspector of Poor) to see it clear of debt before he died; and in this he was gratified, as the last instalment was paid off just the year before his death.

THANKS.

And now, in conclusion, I beg to return my warmest thanks to all those who have kindly favoured me with information about events that happened before my time, and also for all information received of a more subsequent date, and trust I have presented it in such a form as will meet with their general approval.


 


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